The café opposite the station like one or two other independent place in Tunbridge Wells is superior in one respect to the chains - Costa, Café Nero and Starbucks which have branches in the town. You can choose a table,sit down and someone will take your order and bring it to you. You pay the bill only before you leave. As I fill a quarter of an hour this afternoon I think: a relaxed and civilised procedure which is what a coffee should be all about. Joining a queue at the counter, carrying your drink yourself and finding a table if one is free, is just the opposite.
In the Mind charity shop I find a book by Matt Ridley, the science writer. It is called The Origins of Virtue. It suggests that cooperation is built into human genes and those of other animals and demonstrates that we do not simply engage in savage competition for survival at the expense of others, as some interpreters of evolution believe. It seems to me an attractive thesis. "I doubt if you will find any virtue there," says the old man who helps at the shop. It seems that he has not looked into the book and has never heard of Matt Ridley. "I like philosophy," he says as I depart.